Stage 9: Issoire - Saint-Flour 208 km
This tweet may say it all: Bonnie_D_Ford BREAKING: #TdF rebranded as part of "Survivor" franchise.
It is almost hard to write the story of today's stage without it sounding like fiction. In a race that has been marred by so many crashes already, today was supposed to be a day to see how the remaining favorites performed in the hills before tomorrow's first rest day.
This much is clear: Luis Leon Sanchez won from a three man breakaway outkicking Thomas Voeckler and Sandy Casar. Voeckler ended the day in yellow.
Beyond that, things are a bit more complicated, with three incidents that people will be talking about.
The first story is the loss of Alexandre (Vino) Vinokourov and Jurgen Van Den Broeck, both of whom abandoned after another dramatic pileup on a narrow, wet descent. Vinokourov flew into the woods and left with at least two broken bones. The image of his teammates carrying him from a ditch will stay in my mind for a long time. Vino's retirement had been rumored to come at the end of the season and, love or hate him, this is not the way anyone would have wanted his career to end. Video here.
The second story of the day was nearly forgotten after the crash. Katusha's Vlad Karpets may have shoved Alberto Contador off the road. Grainy video is inconclusive and the identity of the riders may be a rumor but there was clearly a shoving incident which the race jury will deal with. Video here.
Finally, something that I certainly could not ever imagine, a French TV car swerved into the breakaway while attempting to pass and avoid a tree, sending polka dot jersey leader Johnny Hoogerland flying into a barbed wire fence and causing Juan Antonio Flecha to hit the deck as well. You can watch the incident here. Repeated viewing does not make it any less horrifying.
Tomorrow, rest day number one and certainly far more on all of this.
Yellow: Thomas Voeckler (New storyline: Can the Frenchman maintain yellow through Bastille Day?)
Stage: Luis Leon Sanchez
Wine: Although I was vaguely tempted to break out the wine during the live coverage (5 a.m. in my timezone), I held off. For tonight: AOC Coteaux du Lyonnais Traboules 2010 from Domaine Clusel-Roch. 100% gamay. Back label tells me a Charles Neal Selection wine but a search of their website is fruitless. Attempts to "ablegrape" the producer take me to a site that did not load for the first 10 attempts. But, like Cavendish climbing in today's stage, I persevered and, finally, the site worked:COTEAUX DU LYONNAIS
Production: approximately 2500 bottles in 2010
Grape variety: 100% Gamay ; Age of the vines: +20 years.
Ageing: 5 month in stainless tank
In 2010 the "Traboules" was produced from grapes sourced from the village of Millery, near Lyon, on the plots "Rochipel" and "Coutois". The soil consists of glacially-formed moraines. The wine has good structure and an expressive nose, with red berries aromas reminiscent of currants, raspberries and cherries. This wine will complement a variety of meats, including cured meats and roasts. Drink now or enjoy in 5 years time.
The wine was produced from grapes in conversion to organic farming, certified by: ECOCERT